Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, finally admitted that Coronavirus and associated measures like lockdowns had created a crisis of sorts. One of these is the food situation. He dropped hints to his officials to prepare for another “Arduous March.” This term relates to the famine during the 1990s that took an unaccounted number of lives. The admission of the leader is a pointer to a serious scenario for the hermit kingdom. During the famine of the late 90s, the North indicated that the country was in trouble.

South China Morning Post SCMP quotes an official of a Seoul-based non-profit organization saying the remarks of Kim hinted at the “enormous impact” of the pandemic and related restrictions on the country.

In July last year, North Korea shut its borders with China to prevent the entry of coronavirus. However, the move backfired. China was not only its ally but also its main trade partner. The action had a direct impact on the economy of the North.

Trade between North Korea and China suffered

The infrastructure of the North is aging and brittle. Once coronavirus struck, Pyongyang sealed the country’s borders. As a result, trade between the neighbors was nosedived. It declined more than 85 percent in the first six months of 2021. This is as per data of the Chinese customs. SCMP goes on to add that severe weather conditions like droughts and typhoons aggravated the problems. The North had to remain visible despite international sanctions imposed on it because of its nuclear weapon programs.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization recently predicted the country could face severe food shortages this year. In May 2019, the media reported about such a situation in North Korea due to drought.

North Korea said it did not have any case of coronavirus

Pyongyang always maintained that there is no case of coronavirus in the country.

It isn't easy to ascertain the truth. Many foreign diplomats and aid workers have already left because of a shortage of basic goods. Moreover, there are restrictions on domestic travel. Obviously, authentic information is not readily available. However, the recent incident of Kim castigating officials on the subject of the virus is significant.

SCMP reveals that the North has to vaccinate nearly 25 million people. It adds up to grave humanitarian implications. The secretive nature of the hermit kingdom is a major obstacle for outsiders to assess the true state of affairs. It is for the international community to act without delay. Prompt action could avert a potential humanitarian disaster involving tens of thousands of lives.

America seizes oil tankers delivering oil to North Korea

According to NDTV, delivering oil to the hermit kingdom is illegal. This is because of international sanctions imposed on the nuclear-armed state. Therefore, the United States seized a Singapore-owned oil tanker. It was making illegal deliveries of oil to North Korea.

A New York federal judge issued a judgment of forfeiture. It authorizes the United States to take ownership of the tanker currently in Cambodia. A Singaporean national purchased the vessel to carry out the illegal activities. The Justice Department says the individual is untraceable. It seems from August to December 2019, the tanker engaged in ship-to-ship transfers of oil to North Korea. The Department has charged the individual with conspiracy to evade economic sanctions on North Korea apart from money laundering conspiracy. During the tenure of Donald Trump, there were talks on denuclearization but those stalled. At present, relations between the two countries are strained.